Cultivating your nurturing parent

Imagine for a moment that you have 24/7 access to the wisest, most loving, truthful and inspiring person on the planet. This sage knows everything about you;  your strengths and weaknesses, your deepest secrets and greatest hurts, your darkest shame and hidden dreams….and unconditionally loves you anyway.  Awesome, right?

Now, what if I told you that you are this person.

I believe everyone has the capacity to build this voice, I call the Nurturing Parent Voice, within ourselves.  This is the parent we all wish we really had.

Your Nurturing Parent reminds you that you’re no less miraculous today than the moment you were born, AND that your value and worth has nothing to do with how you look, what you do, who you know, what you have, or your accomplishments.  You were a miracle at birth, and you still are, warts and all.  

The Nurturing Parent brings healing to old wounds, inspires and motivates you to make healthy choices and reach for your dreams.  It helps you navigate challenging situations and emotions, guides you to discover and stay on your unique path, and picks you up when you fall down.  

When you’re feeling good and on course, your Nurturing Parent celebrates and nurtures your positive choices and successes.  When you’re feeling confused and off track, it reminds you that you are “enough”, and then with curiosity and compassion, guides you to greater clarity about yourself and your circumstances. The Nurturing Parent helps illuminate your wisest course of thought and action in all situations. 

With awareness and practice, you can build can build your own Nurturing parent.  Start by paying attention to your current inner dialogue.  Can you hear the inner ping-pong between the more established voices, the Critical and Indulgent Parents? 

Your Critical Parent knows best how to shame and punish you for not being perfect.  It has a running commentary of “should and shouldn’t,” and will tell you what you “have to do” to earn or redeem your value.  This inner voice uses fear and shame to create action.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Your inner Indulgent Parent let’s you off the hook and lowers your standards.  It steers you away from facing difficult truths and taking positive action.

Here’s an example:  Imagine that you’ve decided to get healthy and lose weight, but go off the wagon one day.  What are you telling yourself about that?  

Is your Critical Parent berating you with,  “You didn’t exercise today.  What’s wrong with you?  You have no discipline.  You’re never going to feel good about yourself if you don’t get it together.  You’re wasting your gym membership. If you were smart and not so lazy, you would get up early and hustle, hustle, hustle!” 

Or are you hearing your Indulgent Parent cooing, “You didn’t exercise today.  But you had so much to do at work and the kids needed your help with homework.  Poor thing, you just don’t have enough time and you’re just too exhausted to get to the gym. Just skip today and try again tomorrow.”

But what if you had a Nurturing Parent who instead said,  “You didn’t exercise today.  Bummer.  What happened?  What kept you from following through? It’s a disappointment, of course.” 

Your Nurturing Parent will help you process your disappointment, grow from the experience, and inspire you to get right back on track, without judging and shaming you.  

Here’s a simple four-step practice to cultivate your own Nurturing Parent:

The Practice:

  1. Listen carefully to the voices of your Critical and Indulgent Parent, and recognize that their messages are distorted and DO NOT inspire you.  
  2. Name what is actually true about you and your situation. 
  3. Based on the simple truth, what would your wisest, most loving, truthful and inspiring person on the planet say to you?  That’s your Nurturing Parent!
  4. Repeat.